The principal tourist attractions of Ischia are its beaches, sea and spa resorts. The green hilly landscape is attractive, as are the little fishing ports, and you can enjoy a pleasant time without seeking out more developed attractions. Time can be happily spent taking boat trips, seeing the island by bus or enjoying food and drink on panoramic terraces above the sea. However, there are some particular sights which are worth seeing if you’re staying in Ischia for a few days.
The Castello Aragonese at Ischia Ponte is the island’s grandest and most dramatic piece of history. A fortress on a high rocky islet, it dominates the surrounding area and offers splendid views. The castle is interesting to explore, and contains several sights of interest, a couple of cafes, and rather museum.
Ischia’s beaches are famous: long stretches of sand between blue sea and the green hills of the interior. They are also very popular, and in high summer some become crowded masses of sunburnt humanity where strangers lie on paid-for sunbeds two feet from each other. For a bit more privacy, visit in early or late summer, or consider taking a water–taxi (or walking) to more inaccessible coves.
Ischia's most renowned beach is the Spiaggia dei Maronti, on the southern shore between Sant'Angelo and Barano. Once, the story goes, it was a favoured landing-spot for pirates who would dig pits in which to bury their loot. As well as good swimming, the 3km–long beach offers the unusual treat of a natural thermal spring at Cava Scura. Open-air pools dug in the rock give visitors the opportunity to bathe in the supposedly–therapeutic waters. Another popular beach is Spiaggia Citara, south of Forio, where the much-photographed Giardini Poseidon are the beach-front gardens of a thermal spa, complete with pools and sunbeds. Between Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte lie two beaches, Spiaggia Mandra and Spiaggia dei Pescatori. Other favourites include the Spiaggia degli Inglesi (‘Beach of the English’), the other side of Ischia Porto.
Visitors interested in gardens will not want to miss La Mortella, the landscape garden created by the composer William Walton and his wife Susanna. Between Lacco Ameno and Forio, the garden lies at the foot of Monte Zaro, cut into an old stone quarry. The garden’s designer was Russell Page, and his aim was to create a landscape which would offer peace and beauty. There are over 800 plant varieties as well as features like a Thai sunhouse, a steel fountain, pools and cascades. The garden is open to the public between April and October, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The gardens also host occasional concerts.